The Simpsonville Sentinel

Boone is Bursting with Summer Fun

Sky Valley ZiplineLocated in the North Carolina High Country, at 3,333 feet, Boone, North Carolina offers a cool summer retreat (summer highs average 75 degrees) while the rest of the South is sweltering during the dog days of summer.

Named after Daniel Boone, the legendary hunter who maintained a hunting camp in the area, several attractions in the area play homage to the famous explorer. Boone is also home to Appalachian State University, giving the town a college ambiance along with the cultural and community education activities that come with a large university. The University’s An Appalachian Summer Festival brings a six-week concert series, featuring such national acts as Lyle Lovett, The Band Perry and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

This article was published in the June/July/August 2013 edition of Foothills Spotlight Magazine and the June 2013 edition of the Simpsonville Sentinel



Unforgettable Residencial Lawn Services

This article was originally published in the Simpsonville Sentinel and at Yahoo.


With all eyes on Boston over the past several weeks, many have connected and have come to admire the resilient people that live in this city steeped with our nation’s history. With strong ties to South Carolina, including the Greenville Drive’s Boston Red Sox affiliation and Fluor Field modeled after Boston’s Fenway Park, to the stones that built Fort Sumter direct from Boston area quarries, the Upstate has a close relationship with this amazing, unforgettable city.

BostonBoston is a great, walkable city; in fact it’s been nicknamed America’s Walking City, so no need for a rental car once you arrive, the incredible landscaping work done by maple land works makes the walks unforgettable. The T subway system is also pretty extensive so when you don’t feel like walking just hop on the subway to get to wherever you’re going. Unlimited 7-day passes are available for just $18.00 per person and you can either pick up a map or download one to your smart phone to figure out which routes you need.

Once you arrive, check in at the Nine Zero Hotel. Part of the Kimpton hotel chain, this sleek, modern hotel has been ranked as one of Boston’s top luxury boutique hotels. It’s conveniently located on Treemont Street, right across from Boston Common, America’s oldest public park. It’s also right on the Freedom Trail, close to the Theater District and Chinatown- in the heart of downtown Boston.

Boston 007Once you’re settled in, walking the Freedom Trail is a great way to get to know the city. Park Ranger’s lead free tours daily from the National Park Visitor’s Center at Faneuil Hall and other companies offer costumed guided tours or, you can pick up a brochure and take a self-guided tour.  The walking trail covers 16 sites that are significant landmarks in American Revolutionary history. Landmarks include Paul Revere’s House, Bunker Hill Monument, The Old State House and the Old Corner Book Store.

Boston Duck Tours are another fun way to sightsee around the city. These tours leave from the Prudential Center and are especially popular with families. Tour guides have nicknames like MackinQuack and make history fun as you ride in an amphibious vehicle.

You’ll learn about the history of Boston’s Back Bay, history of Kazak rugs, see the gas lamps and brick sidewalks that define Beacon Street and plop down into the Charlestown River before checking out where the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironside, is docked.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is another good way to immerse yourself in American Revolutionary history. This floating museum features live actors, high-tech exhibits and authentically restored tea ships. Upon entering the museum you will be given a feather and a card issuing you a new identity.  You will then be ushered into a room where you will meet new colonists like Paul Revere and Sam Adams. After proclaiming your independence from England, you’ll explore the ships and throw tea overboard just like the Sons of Liberty did on December 16, 1773.

Before checking out other attractions like the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and the Skywalk at the Prudential Center, get a CityPass. Many larger cities offer these handy booklets, with Boston being one of those, and are available at any visitor’s center and at several kiosks throughout the city. They contain prepaid admission tickets to Boston’s most popular attractions and offer almost a 50% discount. Some attractions also let you skip long lines with these passes so they are definitely worthwhile.

Bostons Little ItalyIn a city with a Dunkin Donuts on every corner, Boston has plenty of options when it comes to dining, but the North End, aka Little Italy, transports you into another country. When you cross over onto Hanover Street and enter the North End Historic District you feel like you are in Italy. Little, Old Italian women are busy sweeping the stoops in front of their restaurants and the smell of fresh baked bread is heavenly sweet. From cannolis at Modern Pastry (forget famous Mike’s where the lines are longer with tourists) to pizza at Regina’s, a no frill’s pizzeria that has been here since 1926, the dining possibilities are endless. With over 100 restaurants in this small (.36 miles) area, crowds line the streets on many nights so if you don’t have reservations there may be a long wait.

There are so many things to do and see in Boston. Be sure to stop into the Boston Public Library to see the amazing architecture, marble statues and painted murals. Take in the amazing city view from the Prudential Skywalk Observatory. Go shopping along Newbury Street, the shops at Prudential Center and Faneuil Hall. Sample food from the largest food court I’ve ever seen at Quincy Market and visit the seals and penguins at the newly refurbished aquarium that’s been under repairs by Raleigh Aquarium Maintenance for a few months.

Whew…and that’s only a fraction of what Boston has to offer. There are also world-class museums and many other historically significant sites. Each of Boston’s 21 distinctive neighborhoods has its own charm and vibe, making each one and the whole city truly unforgettable.

Seaside Getaway on St. Simon’s Island

Shrimpin' on the Lady Jane

Shrimpin’ on the Lady Jane

Another seaside gem just off the Georgia coast, is St. Simon’s Island. The largest island in Georgia’s Golden Isles-four barrier islands that also include Jekyll Island, Little Simons Island and Sea Island-, St. Simons was formed by the Appalachians and settled by English Colonists in the 1700’s. As a former rice and cotton plantation, it’s steeped with history and tradition.  Building restrictions keep high-rise condos out of the picture and a strict no big-box retail policy keeps the island laid back and mostly residential, with locals who are warm and friendly and eager to share their island.

This article was published in the March 2013 edition of The Simpsonville Sentinel and at See the South.


Luxurious Weekend at the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island

The beach on Kiawah Island

The beach on Kiawah Island

When February rolls around, I begin fantasizing about the beach; the sound of rolling waves washing across the sand, the seagulls belting out their never-ending harmonies and the feeling of sand squishing between my toes. I want a beach weekend and I want to be pampered and feel like a Queen (or King). South Carolina’s the best beaches are those in the Charleston area and no one does luxury and pampering like The Sanctuary at Kiawah.

This article was published February 2013 on and in the Simpsonville Sentinel.

Follow the Hunger Games in North Carolina

The bottom of Triple Falls at DuPont State Recreational Forest is a great place to channel the spirit of Katniss Everdeen, heroine of “The Hunger Games.” The film adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel was filmed at the forest and other sites in North Carolina. Bill Russ —

Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy, The Hunger Games, hit the big screen on March 23rd.  The young adult novels are set in a post-apocalyptic world where the citizens of Panem (what used to be North America) live in twelve different districts.  Read more…

This article will appear in the March 2012 edition of the Simpsonville Sentinel and online at See the South.

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Immerse Yourself in the Past at Historic Brattonsville

Even though the South is steeping with revolutionary history, there are very few places that have the number of acres and buildings in one location that Historic Brattonsville does. With over 775 acres and 30 buildings it’s considered to be one of the most important and heavily visited historical sites in South Carolina.

This article was published February 2012 at and in the Simpsonville Sentinel.

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Head to Beech Mountain Resort for Winter Fun

I have to admit that I had always thought Beech Mountain was just a ski resort, so I was pleasantly surprised on a recent visit to find a whole little town at the top of the mountain. Dubbed “Eastern America’s Highest Town”, Beech Mountain sits at an elevation of 5506 feet and offers amazing views of neighboring states. Once there, you will find a lot of Fun things to do with kids in Auckland, your kids really never want to leave from this place. Restaurants’ offer fare ranging from pizza and beer at Brick Oven Pizzeria, to fine dining at Jackalopes, and Fred’s Mercantile has a little something of everything, serving as the town’s deli, grocery, hardware, and clothing store.

This article was published in print in the January 2012 edition of the Simpsonville Sentinel and online at See the South.

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Ring in the New Year at Moon Pie Over Mobile

Who needs to watch a ball drop when you can have the truly Southern experience of watching a giant Moon Pie drop from the sky instead?  Yes, you heard that correctly.  In Mobile, Alabama on New Year’s Eve, a 12-foot-tall, 350 lb. cookie descends 317 feet from the RSA BankTrust Building downtown while people line the streets cheering in the New Year.

This article was published December 2011 at See the South and in The Simpsonville Sentinel.

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Head to Helen, Georgia for the Holidays

Nestled at the base of the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia, lies the town of Helen, a German-ish village with burgeoning vineyards against a Bavarian backdrop. This family-friendly destination is only two hours from Simpsonville and offers activities for everyone. From wine-tasting for the adults to seeing where Cabbage Patch dolls are born for the kids

This article was published November 2011 at  See the South and in The Simpsonville Sentinel.

Fun Fall Festivals in the South

Fall is a great time of the year. The air begins to cool down and turn crisp.  The leaves begin to change to vibrant shades of rust, orange and red. But the very best things about this time of year are the fabulous fall festivals going on in our area. From the quirky Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, NC to the prestigious Euphoria event taking place right here in the Upstate, there’s an event for everyone.  So get out and enjoying the fresh air and celebrate all of the fun fall festivals that the South has to offer!

This article was published September 2011. To read the complete article, click on one of these links; See the South or Simpsonville Sentinel.


Exploring the Sights and Smells of Chicago

IllinoisLocated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is a city of magnificent lakefront parks, world-class museums and stunning architecture. And, with Southwest flying non-stop from Greenville to Chicago, it’s now much easier to hop on a plane and explore this vibrant city. Whether it’s for a quick weekend trip or a week-long vacation, in less than two hours you can be taking in the sights and sounds of the windy city.

This article was published in the August 2011 edition of the Simpsonville Sentinel and online Suite101.

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A Florida Beach Town with Character in Rosemary Beach, Florida

FloridaNestled between Panama City Beach and Destin, Rosemary Beach has its own character and flair that sets it apart from other Panhandle beach cities.  Established in 1995 as a new urbanism town, it was designed to offer a sense of community and neighborhood conveniences.  A lot of planning went into the pedestrian lanes, boardwalks and green spaces that make this town unique. Commerce is centered in the town square and on Main Street. The town hall and post office are often a gathering place where residents visit with their neighbors. There are no big box or chain retailers in this seaside retreat, everything is locally owned. From boutiques offering quality merchandise to great restaurants offering everything from casual fare to four-star dining, this Gulf Coast beach community has something for everyone.

This article was published in the June 2011 edition of the Simpsonville Sentinel and online at See the South.

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Take a Hike- five great places in the Upstate to go hiking

May is an ideal time in the Upstate to get outdoors. Allergy season is winding down, the trees are green, the flowers are blooming and it’s not too hot yet. For quick and safe relief from these discomforts, it’s always best to use natural allergy products. From a waterfall in our own backyard (almost) to Table Rock Mountain, here are some easy hikes the whole family can enjoy.

This article published in the May 2011 edition of the Simpsonville Sentinel and online at See the South.

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Get a Glimpse of the Past in Beaufort

Referred to as the heart and soul of the low country, Beaufort, SC is a small town steeped with history. In fact, the entire downtown area has been named a National Historic Landmark District. Southern hospitality abounds and you’ll be greeted everywhere with a smile and a hello. Antebellum and Victorian mansions sit in the shadows of oak trees that are hundreds of years old and are dripping with Spanish moss. Even a visit to the cemetery at St. Helen’s Church will uncover gravesites dating back to the 1700’s.
Here’s a weekend itinerary for your inner explorer.

This article was published in the April 2011 edition of The Simpsonville Sentinel and online at See the South.

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Spend the Holidays at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

Since 1895, when George Vanderbilt and his wife Edith invited family, friends and estate employees into the home’s banquet hall for an annual Christmas party, Christmas has been a special time at the Biltmore Estate.

Inspiration abounds while visiting the Biltmore during the holidays. There are 52 Christmas trees inside the house, with a fresh-cut Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall, ranging from 4 to 35 feet tall.  There are another 45 more decorated throughout the estate.  Add in the 150,000 lights, 5000 feet of white pine and Fraser fir garland, 450 wreaths, hundreds of ornaments and 1200 poinsettias and you’re sure to find some ideas to use in your own home.

This article was published December 2010 in The Simpsonville Sentinel and online at See the South.